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Stars Face Jets In Big Central Division Clash Tonight

The idle Stars last night find themselves relegated back to a Wild Card spot — and now face one of the top teams in the West.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the downfalls to the Dallas Stars dropping road contests versus the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks this week is that the rest of the Central Division kept collecting points. All of a sudden, the small buffer the Stars had built themselves between the rest of the field contending for playoff spots out west has shrunk.

Now, the Stars are right back in the muck with everyone else.

The Minnesota Wild won last night, jumping over the Stars in the standings and sitting one point ahead of Dallas with the same number of games played. The Winnipeg Jets, who the Stars host on home ice tonight, beat the St. Louis Blues last night 4-0. On the one hand, that’s good news for Dallas in terms of the Blues (directly behind them in the standings) not earning any points. On the other, that means that the Jets will roll into town with some confidence tonight.

Dallas desperately needs to put up a good showing — and get the results — tonight after a disappointing road trip. Luckily, they’ve made pretty good hay at home, posting a 21-9-1 record at the American Airlines Center.

Dallas Stars Lineup

These were the most recent lines Dallas used in their win over the Los Angeles Kings:

Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Mattias Janmark
Devin Shore - Jamie Benn - Alexander Radulov
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Gemel Smith - Jason Spezza - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Marc Methot - Stephen Johns

With Martin Hanzal already ruled out for tonight’s game, it’s likely that head coach Ken Hitchcock sticks with his most recent lineup. Ben Bishop is likely starting in net tonight with a big divisional game on the line on home ice. He’s been pretty solid at home, posting a 93.65% save percentage, according to Corsica (third best among goaltenders with 700 or more minutes played at home, behind only Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Antti Raanta of the now-Arizona Coyotes).

Winnipeg Jets Lineup

The Jets should have a lineup that looks something like the following, with some tweaks in the bottom six or on defense based on last night’s game — we’ll have to see if they make any changes at morning skate.

Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Jack Roslovic
Nikolaj Ehlers - Andrew Copp - Patrik Laine
Nic Petan - Matt Hendricks - Joel Armia

Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers
Toby Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot - Dmitry Kulikov

With Connor Hellebuyck shutting out the Blues last night, the Jets could elect to go with him again in net tonight. With a second half of a back-to-back though, the Stars could get Andrew Hutchinson, which means they’ll go up against another backup goaltender.

Strap in for that, Stars fans.